Two days ago, a friend in a party asked: “What is your statement?” She meant what my philosophy about life and the world is. I said, “Frankly, I don’t think I have a fixed view (or a statement) of the world.” She said, “You quote all these books, but don’t claim any opinion. That is strange.”
I said, “Yes, I read a lot, and I don’t see a problem in quoting writers I trust, or better, trusted by many in intelligentia. Besides, I don’t quote for the sake of it. I use books as reference points because they reflect my views of the world in some ways.” She said, “But, what is your view(s).”
She would not let go of putting me up against the wall. I said, “Look, the nature of the world is too complex to allow me to make a singular statement. Things change so rapidly and so do my thoughts on discovering new possibilities. So, I don’t know what my statement is.”
Although I did not know the answer, it was, to be honest, a great question. I kept pondering as our conversation progressed. Finally, I said, “My philosophy is humanism or secular humanism. I stand for reason and science over myths and against oppression and injustice.” She seemed slightly convinced, but I was not satisfied with my answer because I doubted it was my statement. It did not describe how I see the world.
I thought my statement is the people at the gathering: the Vietnamese, Indians, Lebanese, Chileans, Pakistani (myself), Americans, Africans and African Americans. My statement is the dark night and the starless sky above. My statement is the cigar, beer and wine on the table. My statement is the fire next to the table.
My statement is the floating river and the cool breeze on the bridge on Raritan Avenue. My statement is to walk and lose myself to the silence of the streets in the dark. My statement is to doubt, and question because what I see does not exist in reality. And my statement is that I am lost in the world and don’t have a statement.